The Harrowing True Story of How Vladimir Putin Blew Off Donald Trump

The king and queen of the Netherlands meet with Vladimir Putin the day before the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Putin sure is short, isn't he? And King Willem-Alexander looks really thrilled to be meeting him, doesn't he?Mikhail Klimentyev/ITAR-TASS/ZUMAPRESS

Russian Roulette, by David Corn and Michael Isikoff, comes out next week, but we have the first of two excerpts today. There’s plenty of good stuff about Trump’s first forays into Russia, but my favorite is this one about his efforts to meet Vladmir Putin at the Miss Universe pageant in 2013:

Inevitably, the conversation turned toward Putin and whether he would appear at the pageant. “I know for a fact that he wants very much to come,” Trump said, “but we’ll have to see. We haven’t heard yet, but we have invited him.”

….By late afternoon, Trump’s anxiety was palpable. There had been no word. He kept asking if anybody had heard from Putin. Then Agalarov’s phone rang. “Mr. Peskov would like to speak to Mr. Trump,” Agalarov said. Trump and Peskov spoke for a few minutes. Afterward, Trump recounted the conversation to Goldstone. Peskov, he said, was apologetic. Putin very much wanted to meet Trump. But there was a problem nobody had anticipated: a Moscow traffic jam. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands were in town, and Putin was obligated to meet them at the Kremlin. But the royal couple had gotten stuck in traffic and was late, making it impossible for the Russian president to find time for Trump. Nor would he be able to attend the Miss Universe pageant that evening.

Here’s my question: did Trump actually believe this story? A traffic jam? That’s pretty much an intentional insult, isn’t it?

Anyway, this got me curious. As near as I can tell, the Dutch king and queen met with Putin on Friday, the day before the pageant. On the day of the pageant itself, the royals visited an art gallery; met with Dutch and Russian CEOs to discuss “strengthening trade between the two countries”; and then attended an evening concert, where a pair of activists pelted them with tomatoes. I can find no evidence that they met with Putin that day at all, let alone that a traffic jam held them up. So not only was Putin insulting Trump with a phony excuse, he made sure it was an excuse that was really obviously phony unless you’re an idiot.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate